Beavers overcome strong start by 'Horns in sub-state title game
By BRETT MARSHALL
KISMET — For a portion late in the first quarter and early second quarter of Saturday night's Class 3A sub-state boys championship game, the Holcomb Longhorns were able to do what only three teams could barely do against the Scott City Beavers. They had a lead.
For 2 minutes, 28 seconds, the Longhorns battled Scott City and were ahead at 17-13 late in the first and again at 19-17 with 7:25 go in the second stanza.
From there, the Beavers did what they do best and went on multiple runs and eventually produced a workmanlike 81-61 triumph over the Longhorns, thus earning a return trip to Hutchinson on Thursday for a chance to win their third consecutive state title.
In winning their third straight sub-state title, all against the Longhorns, the Beavers improved their season record to 22-1. They open defense of their state title on Thursday with a 3 p.m. game against Pittsburg-St. Mary's Colgan (17-5) at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
Holcomb saw its season end at 18-5 under second-year coach Chad Novack. Three of those setbacks came against the Beavers, one against Denver South in the Southwest Classic and the other to Ulysses during the regular season.
"The kids just played a heckuva ballgame, and everything we did in the first quarter was clicking," Novack said of that early success. "The defense was clicking (5 Scott City turnovers), we were hitting the open shots, and I thought we were aggressive."
But as it has happened so frequently over the course of Scott City's three-year buzz-saw against opponents, the Beavers regrouped in the second quarter and started the first of four runs, this one 14-4, to go up by eight, 29-21, en route to a 38-27 halftime lead.
"I think once we recognized what they were trying to do with our two guards (Brett and Trey O'Neil), the others adjusted and got passes where they could score," Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil said.
Once the Beavers grabbed the lead, it seemed like they would never let up off the accelerator.
The 11-point halftime lead bulged to 19 by the end of the third quarter, thanks in part to runs of 8-2 and 11-3 by the Beavers. An 11-4 run in the first 2:14 of the fourth stretched the advantage to 27, 71-44.
"They're really tough, and they came out fired up," Meyer, who scored 17 points off 8-of-11 field goal shooting, said. "It's hard when you're playing them a third time and you've won by so much. They're kinda like brothers that we see every so often."
The Beavers' got a stellar effort from Hess, who dropped in 17 points by making 6-of-7 field goals and 5-of-7 free throws.
"Holcomb's a great team, and they were giving us problems early," Hess said. "When they got Heath back, they're a much, much better team than what we played earlier in the season. It was a little nerve-wracking there at the beginning. We just had to figure out what was going on, and I thought everybody did a great job of dishing off to Drew and Joey so they could get their shots."
Kite was again a big force inside despite some early foul issues that included a technical foul midway through the third quarter. The 6-4 post player had 22 points and 19 rebounds to help the Beavers dominate the boards, 35-23. Brett O'Neil added 14 points and Trey O'Neil chipped in with 10 as the five starters accounted for 80 of the 81 points.
Tyler LaSalle had perhaps his best game against the Beavers, scoring 22 points to lead the Longhorns. Tucker and Aaron Hernandez, who was razor-sharp in the first quarter, added 11 points each. The only edge in statistics for the Longhorns came in the turnover category, where they had 9 compared to 13 for the Beavers.
And the fact that it was the third straight year for Holcomb to see its season end by Scott City wasn't lost on Scott City's coach O'Neil.
"I told Chad (Novack) that it's a shame they aren't a 4A school with a few more students," coach O'Neil said. "They deserve to go."
The Longhorns put together an impressive season despite suffering a barrage of injuries that kept Tucker out for most of the season, along with Clay Gilbert and Cory Roth, who missed portions of the first half of the year.
Holcomb 17 10 14 20 -- 61
Scott City 15 23 22 21 -- 81
Holcomb (18-5) — Tucker 3-13 3-4 11, LaSalle 8-19 3-5 22, Hernandez 5-9 1-3 11, Cox 0-1 0-2 0, Gottschalk 0-0 0-0 0, Gilbert 1-2 2-2 4, Richmeier 2-5 0-0 6, Bennett 2-5 2-4 6, Ramsey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-54 11-20 61.
Scott City (22-1) — B. O'Neil 3-7 8-11 14, Wells 0-0 1-2 1, T. O'Neil 3-3 3-5 10, B. Meyer 0-1 0-0 0, Hess 6-7 5-7 17, Wilson 0-2 0-0 0, J. Meyer 8-11 1-3 17, Kite 8-12 6-7 22. Totals 28-43 24-35 81.
3-point goals--Holcomb 6-18 (Tucker 2-7, LaSalle 2-7, Richmeier 2-4), Scott City 1-5 (B. O'Neil 0-2, T. O'Neil 1-1, Wilson 0-1, Kite 0-1). Rebounds--Holcomb 23 (Bennett 8), Scott City 35 (Kite 19). Turnovers--Holcomb 9, Scott City 13. Fouls--Holcomb 28, Scott City 17. Fouled out--Holcomb (Hernandez, Richmeier, Ramsey). Technical fouls--Scott City (Kite).